Since beginning the program in August 2020, Border Region Behavioral Health Centers program champions, Rogelio Rangel and Christina Pena (pictured) have completed their training with us, and the remaining champion, Janie Hernandez, is set to finish in February 2021! TTTF is proud to be working with these 3 passionate individuals and is excited to witness the increase of tobacco control and cessation knowledge amongst Border Region’s employees through the efforts of the center’s program champions!
Vijay Nitturi has been awarded a PURS scholarship
We are proud to announce that Vijay Nitturi, a TTTF Undergraduate Initiative/Research Coordinator, has been awarded a scholarship from the University of Houston’s Provost’s Undergraduate Research Scholarship (PURS) program. He will assist with the implementation and evaluation of TTTF’s “Train the Trainer” program in one of our partner local mental health authorities (LMHA), the Heart of Texas Region Center, in the spring of 2021. This LMHA serves patients with behavioral health conditions across six counties. Vijay will also assist in the creation of a step-by-step implementation guide that incorporates “lessons learned” from the implementation and will work with the TTTF team to disseminate the guide and curriculum to other LMHAs across Texas.
TTTF Undergraduate Team
Our Undergraduate Team has been a reliable source of help for project implementation and have been very successful in their own achievements as well! Research Coordinator Vijay Nitturi was selected to be a part of the University of Houston’s 2020 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program (SURF). Along with receiving a scholarship, he will participate in a focused, full-time, 10-week research experience under the direction of Dr. Reitzel (TTTF Project Director).
Our Undergraduate Research Assistant Matthew Taing was competitively selected into the UHAND program, an education and research partnership between the University of Houston and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. As a UHAND Scholar, Matthew will be working diligently to understand, measure, and address the role of social inequities in worsening disparities related to tobacco use under the direction of Dr. Reitzel (TTTF Project Director, UHAND Project Director).
Our Undergraduate Research Assistant Tayma Machkhas has accepted a summer internship on behalf of the Center for Traditional Medicine and the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) with support from the Leslie Korn Institute for Integrative Medicine. She will be working as a lead intern on a project that is focusing on expanding a graduate course on cultural competence for upcoming health professionals.
On February 01, 2019, TTTF worked with Santa Maria Hostel at both their Jacquelyn House and Bonita House locations to kick off the day the center became tobacco free! Santa Maria Hostel is one of Texas’ largest multi-site residential and outpatient addiction treatment for centers, and we are so grateful for the chance to work with them on this project! The kick-off event featured carbon monoxide screenings, dissemination of educational materials, and TTTF cupcakes and giveaway items to garner motivation for the initiative.
“Our aim is to change the landscape of how tobacco use is addressed within substance use treatment centers and other community agencies that serve their clientele”
– Dr. Lorraine Reitzel,
TTTF Principal Investigator
Train-the-Trainer Program Champion Presents Educational Training
Program Champion Christina Pena (top) conducted a tobacco control and cessation educational training to fellow employees at her Border Regions facility while Bryce Kyburz (TTTF Project Manager, bottom) and Dr. Isabel Martinez Leal (not pictured) observed and collected feedback to share with her at the end.
Spotlight on TTTF-Provided Trainings
TTTF Project Manager, Bryce Kyburz, with the help of TTTF staff members, delivered tobacco control and cessation educational trainings to clinical providers and staff from two partnering substance use treatment centers – Texas Clinic Westview and Volunteers of America Riverside– and 1 partnering community agency – Luke Society Clinic. This milestone marks that staff and clinicians from all of our partnering substance use treatment centers and community agencies have been trained on the core aspects of tobacco control and cessation. These centers have now implemented the TTTF program into their facilities and are currently being surveyed on how well TTTF has performed for their staff and clients.
Gulf Coast Center is a community center that provides services and support for individuals with mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental disability needs. Gulf Coast Center also provides community services, such as on-demand transportation services, community education, and disaster recovery support.
Fort Bend Regional Council is a substance use treatment center that comprehensively addresses substance use through youth prevention, substance use treatment for individuals and families, and outreach programs to help families and communities stay safe and drug-free. Fort Bend Regional Council’s outpatient treatment program implements an intensive series of individual, family, and group counseling sessions.
Inspired Hope is a private, outpatient methadone maintenance treatment center offering individual drug counseling for opioid and other substance use.
If you are a substance use treatment center in Texas that is interested in participating in our comprehensive tobacco-free workplace program, please contact us.
Motivational Interview Trainings
On May 9th and May 10th, TTTF conducted motivational interview trainings at Foundation Communities in Austin and Alpha Home in San Antonio.
The Kansas Tobacco Guideline for Behavioral Health Care Toolkit was developed by the Public Health Law Center for NAMI Kansas and the Kansas Health Foundation. Members of the TTTF team were invited to present at the 39th annual Conference for Behavioral Health in Manhattan, Kansas with support from The National Alliance on Mental Illness - NAMI Kansas where they met with toolkit contributor Rick Cagan. The toolkit contains Kansas-specific examples and case studies for behavioral health and substance use providers and features TTTF (page 43).
West Texas Centers is the first group of certified tobacco treatment trainers through the Taking Texas Tobacco Free training program
TTTF congratulates (left to right) Natalie Parks, Jacob Castle, Shelley Smith, and Catherine (Cat) Hood for completing the inaugural train-the-trainer project as program champions at
West Texas Centers. This plaque was presented to each champion to honor their hard work and commitment to addressing tobacco use for the people they serve. The 12 hours of training represents the time each trainer spent receiving training from TTTF staff as well as providing trainings to their employees –however, we know they dedicated even more time studying, preparing, and practicing to be able to deliver the tobacco education curriculum.
"Taking Texas Tobacco Free" with Lorraine Reitzel
Project Director, Dr. Lorraine Reitzel was the guest speaker for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute Seminar Series 2020. In this very informative seminar, Dr. Reitzel spoke about how "Taking Texas Tobacco Free" is addressing cancer disparities through the dissemination and implementation of a multi-faceted tobacco control workplace intervention. To view the seminar, click here.
Taking Texas Tobacco Free and the COVID-19 Pandemic
TTTF responds to increased tobacco intervention needs in light of COVID-19.
In response to COVID-19, many frontline government, healthcare, and first responder organizations have mobilized to support the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable groups, including individuals who are homeless, have behavioral health disorders, and/or have substance use disorders. Among these organizations is Integral Care – a local mental health authority in Texas and TTTF’s project partner. Integral Care has partnered with the City of Austin, Travis County, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services, Community Care, The Ending Homelessness Coalition, and many social services providers to address mental health and practical needs of individuals housed in isolation centers developed by the City of Austin.
COVID-19 increases the likelihood of tobacco use relapse. Additionally, smoking or vaping practices increase the risks associated with COVID-19. Oftentimes, individuals housed in these isolation centers leave the center to smoke or vape, resulting in increased COVID-19 transmission risk. To learn more about the risks of smoking and vaping during COVID-19, see our fact sheet, which is also available in Spanish.
To address the high rates of relapse and risks of smoking during COVID-19, TTTF has partnered with this coalition of organizations addressing the needs of individuals in isolation centers to provide tobacco dependence intervention. TTTF is providing tobacco education to staff/volunteers as well as nicotine replacement therapy and support to residents of the isolation centers to reduce tobacco use.
The National Behavioral Health Network for Tobacco & Cancer Control is 1 of 8 CDC National Networks working to eliminate cancer and tobacco disparities. In their “Toolkit” they expand on TTTF’s program, featuring our impact in training, knowledge gain, and support to centers. They also feature the TTTF program video which highlights the successes of Billy T. Cattan, an outpatient substance use treatment center working with TTTF.
Dr. Lorraine Reitzel, Lead Investigator, Discusses the TTTF Program in the Texas 21 Webinar
Texas 21 is a group of organizations whose mission it is to prevent tobacco use. As 95 percent of smokers start before age 21, Texas21 hopes to do this by raising the legal tobacco sale age from 18 to 21. On December 6, 2018, Dr. Lorraine Reitzel (Principal Investigator) spoke at their Statewide Health Disparities Webinar where she discussed the disproportionate rate of tobacco use among those with substance use disorders and the benefits of implementing state-wide programs like TTTF. See the webinar below.
Many states have made great strides in addressing tobacco use in behavioral health treatment settings. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control highlights some of these state programs, including the TTTF program in Texas, in a report which can be used as a resource by tobacco control and behavioral health programs. In particular, TTTF’s clinician and staff training and provision of nicotine replacement therapies are highlighted (page 3).
The National Behavioral Health Network for Tobacco & Cancer Control is a group of organizations and individuals working to provide resources to organizations to reduce tobacco use and cancer among people with mental health and illnesses. On February 7th, 2017, Dr. Lorraine Reitzel (Principal Investigator), Dr. Lam Cho (former Principal Investigator), Mr. Timothy Stacey (Project Collaborator), and Mr. Bryce Kyburz (Project Collaborator) of TTTF presented the need for a state-wide tobacco cessation program and the impact of TTTF in the context of tobacco & cancer control. They addressed the consequences of tobacco use, the susceptibility of those in behavioral health care settings to tobacco and the need to counter this, and details of the TTTF project.
Research has shown that those with substance use disorders are more likely to smoke and are disproportionately affected by tobacco-related diseases. Consequently, it has been in the interest of leaders in state and tobacco programs to increase prevention and tobacco cessation efforts for this population. In response to this interest, SAMHSA created a resource that provides evidence in support of integrating tobacco control in behavioral health settings. TTTF’s provision of nicotine replacement therapy to participating centers is cited as one method of state-level tobacco cessation support (page 2).